WWS: Jack Sellar: racer with a heart

Jack Sellar NASCAR Winston West Series In the time that Jack Sellers and his girlfriend, Kathleen Otto, have been together, their relationship has experienced more hardships than other people have ever experienced in a lifetime. In March...

Jack Sellar NASCAR Winston West Series

In the time that Jack Sellers and his girlfriend, Kathleen Otto, have been together, their relationship has experienced more hardships than other people have ever experienced in a lifetime.

In March 1996, Kathleen required major back surgery to repair damage to her spine from a previous spinal fracture (L-5/S-1) that had not been taken care of properly. (This first injury was caused by a horseback riding/jumping accident and also resulted in an injury to her right hip.) Plates, screws, a bolt and bone grafts were done in an attempt to align and fuse the vertebra. Kathleen was placed in a "body vest" (body cast) until August 1996, when the surgeon determined the fusion did not "take" and another operation was done in mid August 1996. This time, a bolt, washer, bone graft and a wedge shape piece of bone from her hip were placed in the front of her spine. Things were further complicated because her pelvis was completely horizontal, at a 90 degree angle instead of the approximately 15 degree "normal" angle.

Jack soon became proficient at putting on and taking off Kathleen's body vest. His sense of humor and "witty" ideas kept Kathleen's spirits up during this difficult time. Once, when Jack was putting Kathleen's body vest on her, he came up with the clever idea of drawing an arrow with an "up" symbol on the back portion of her vest. This allowed Jack to save time instead of wasting minutes on trying to decide if the back portion of her vest was right side-up or upside-down. When Kathleen went for her recheck, the orthotic company that made her vest stated, "why didn't we think of that!"?

After months of physical therapy, Kathleen's spine surgeon finally let her add 5-10 minutes of riding her horse at the walk as part of her physical therapy program. (Much the same as "Project Ride" program for the handicapped). Her surgeon thought the benefits would outweigh the risks as Kathleen had ridden from the time she was 8; showed "hunters" and "flat" classes on both the open and breed circuits, and had worked as an instructor and assistant trainer.

Unfortunately, not even three weeks into her new "riding therapy" program. Kathleen suffered a serious riding accident that resulted in a bilateral fracture of L-4 as well as an injury to her pelvis. This time, however, she was not as fortunate as the last accident and spent from May 1997 to October 1997 in a body vest and leg brace. She also required another surgery in March 1998.

Kathleen now has a fixed deformity of a horizontal pelvis, borderline Grade 2/3 spondylolisthesis (caused by the spinal fractures) and severe hypolordosis that caused compression of her facet joints (the joints of the vertebrae) above her fusion that cannot be reversed. In addition, she must wear a permanent leg brace as the injuries caused "foot drop".

The results of these injuries make it difficult for her to even perform many simple activities of daily living and has changed her lifestyle dramatically. Through all of this, Jack has always been there for her.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jack Sellers